Full Moon Ride scheduled for Aug. 26 at Mercer Meadows Park

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Riding a bicycle on the path around Rosedale Lake is enjoyable, but it’s even more fun when it can be done at night under a full moon – and that is what bicyclists will be able to do later this month.

The annual Full Moon Ride, which is the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corp.’s signature fund-raising event, is set for Aug. 26 at Mercer Meadows Park, which spans Lawrence and Hopewell townships. The rain date is Sept. 22.

The event, which is co-sponsored by the Mercer County Park Commission, runs from 7-11:30 p.m. in the park’s picnic pavilion area. The entrance is off Federal City Road, between Blackwell and Old Mill roads in Hopewell Township.

The nonprofit Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corp., which maintains the 22-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail in Lawrence and Hopewell townships, raises money to offset the maintenance costs through the Full Moon Ride.

The fee for bicyclists is $20 and there is a $5 pre-registration discount if registration is made before Aug. 15. There is no fee for individuals who want to attend the event and who do not want to ride a bicycle, although a small donation is requested.

The Full Moon Ride is the brainchild of Jay Watson, who volunteers with the Lawrence Hopewell Trail Corp. During the day, he is the deputy director of the D&R Greenway Land Trust.

“I am always looking for creative ways to introduce people to our amazing parks and open spaces throughout the state,” Watson said. “Hosting night events in the outdoors makes people see these places with a different perspective, and taps into a segment that might not be regular visitors.”

Watson said he started hosting meteor shower parties at Mercer Meadows Park during the annual Perseid meteor showers in August.

Soon, it occurred to Watson that people enjoy being in the park under dark, star-lit skies and that was the genesis of the Full Moon Ride. It was something new and it quickly became a popular event, he said.

It is not necessary to be a bicycle rider to take part in the Full Moon Ride and there will be plenty of activities to occupy young and old alike.

Participants, bicyclists and non-bicyclists, can bring a picnic dinner, decorate their bicycles, watch a movie on an outdoor screen, or just enjoy a campfire. The band Sounds of Sandstorm will play blues, jazz and contemporary music.

For bicyclists, the real fun begins around 8 p.m. when the moon rises. Groups of 40 to 50 bicyclists will head out from the picnic pavilion and ride on the path around Rosedale Lake.

The next segment of the ride takes them under “Firefly Lane,” so called because twinkling lights have been set up on a canopy above the riders. Then, they will pass lanterns floating on Dragonfly Pond. Classical musicians will play for the bicyclists as they ride past.

The Full Moon Ride and its pre-ride activities are open to all ages, but bicyclists must be at least 12 years old to go on the ride. Helmets are mandatory for riders under 18, but are recommended for all riders.

Online registration is available by visiting the Lawrence Hopewell Trail’s website at www.lhtrail.org/fullmoonride. The deadline is 5 p.m. Aug. 26, but late registrants will be accepted at the event.